‘Just look at Kent, for God’s sake!’ - Labour MP says county shows why selective education doesn’t work

PUBLISHED: 10:56 15 March 2017

Grammar schools are a controversial topic

Grammar schools are a controversial topic

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Barry Sheerman told MPs why he is opposed to the government’s plans to create new grammar schools

Kent represents an example of the selective education system not working for children, a Labour MP has claimed.

The comments came in a Commons discussion about the budget last week, in which Philip Hammond announced more than half a billion pounds is to be pumped into creating new free schools, including grammars, and refurbishing existing school buildings.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was “barking up the wrong tree completely” by looking to expand the grammar system, which is largely supported by Kent County Council and many of the county’s Conservative MPs, but opposed by some unions, campaigners and non-selective heads; dozens of whom wrote to Theresa May last year outlining their concerns with the prime minister’s plans.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman told colleagues he thought the county demonstrated why selective education doesn’t work.

He said: “Where is the evidence that grammar schools and free schools do anything to find the spark in children that we want to release? There is no evidence and no research.

“Not one reputable research institute or organisation in this country believes that a return to selective education will help anyone — quite the reverse.

“Look at all the research and the experience in other countries.

“Just look at Kent, for God’s sake! It is the most selective place in the country and it has the worst performance across all schools in the country. That is selective education.

“It has no research base and no experience base, and there is no global comparison of which we can say, ‘isn’t it wonderful?’

“They do not have it in Denmark, Sweden or Finland. I doubt it is even the latest fashion in Shanghai.”

KCC’s education chief Roger Gough, however, has repeatedly said the county performs above the national and regional average.

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